I Done Went There

I Done Went There

I have thought and thought how to tell you this…and this title kept coming to mind.

I know it is grammatically incorrect.

I know the title is painful to read…but it just makes me laugh and smile and see the brighter side of things…now that I am on this side of things.  Let me explain where I went recently.

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(Ha!  It wasn’t anywhere like this.)

Almost two weeks ago my middle daughter began complaining of neck pain.  I felt of her neck after more complaints than normal and felt that her lymph nodes were swollen behind one ear.  Dustin wasn’t available that night, so I googled swollen lymph nodes and was relieved to understand that this was a good sign…a sign of the body fighting off some sickness.

So I put on my game face and started giving more fluids than normal and other natural remedies for sicknesses.

Her neck pain got worse so I took her to see my ex-roommate, now Physician’s Assistant, friend. (God bless her especially after all the text message exchanges we had last week!)   She administered a strep test (which was negative) and said the lymph nodes were doing their job and we just needed to give it time.

Oh, time…I love you so much.

By Thursday night, these nodes were still super swollen (and painful) and a low grade fever began.  I am typically not “that parent” who runs to the pediatricians office, but this was day four of my daughter being in constant pain and now she had a fever, I honestly thought maybe we had a negative on the strep test and we could get an antibiotic and all would be well in the world.

Hallelujah and Amen.

And Dustin even offered to take her to the Pediatrician’s office…so bless his heart, he went and sat among all the sick people and all their germs and their germs’ germs.

And he held our little gal’s hand while she had another strep test and a blood test for mono.  He gives the girls strength in situations that involve needles.  I just tend to be extremely quiet and sweaty which does not yield any assistance from Mommy when needles are around.  I just can’t.

I am sweating now just thinking of the needles.

Anyway, all tests were negative and again we were told there are SO MANY viruses that look like mono and act like it…give it a few more days.

So long story short…we ended up having 72+ hours of me administering ibuprofen or tylenol every three hours around the clock to keep her temperature between 101 and 102 (with medicine).  She could not eat ANYTHING for almost that entire time because of her swollen throat (you almost could not see her hangy down thing in the back of her throat…the uvula?).

And one steroid shot on Wednesday afternoon, made the world a better place.  By Thursday morning, we had no fever and our appetite began to come back.
And today when she requested Bojangles for lunch, I did not think twice about its fat or grease content.  If she wanted to eat it, I would oblige.

But here’s where I went.  Until we had this steroid shot, I would look at her suffering, unable to turn her neck, crying from the pain in her throat, trying to sleep but burning with fever and think, “Oh God, please don’t take another child from me!  I cannot lose another child.  I just can’t.”

That’s where I went.

I remembered those feelings of handing my deceased child to the doctors.  Of never seeing a chest rise and fall again.   Of coming home empty-handed and staring out the window in stunned thoughtlessness.

And I let fear take me over.

And I was scared.  Scared for her life and scared for mine without her.

I realize that I was tired and I had never experienced such sickness for myself or any of our children before this.  And I know that some people pull out the “OVERREACTING” card on me.

But to me, it is real.  Loss is a real thing.  And I can relive it very easily even ten years later.

It happens when I hear of someone else losing a baby or a child.  I am so overwhelmed with sadness and brokenhearted that I can hardly function.

And evidently it happens when I am faced with extreme sickness in my own family.  Sigh.

Just for the record, I have learned that when I recognize myself “going there”with my thoughts, I try to take them captive.  Using Philippians 4:8, I can ask myself, “What is true?”  (In this case, my daughter was sick, doctors were not concerned and she would more than likely make a full recovery – even google told me so!)  “What is right?”  And so forth and so on.  ( This is wonderful advice I got from Elizabeth George’s book, Loving God with All Your Mind.)  

Then I try to find verses to cling to in the current situation.

I hope by sharing this, you too, will realize when your mind starts taking you “there.”  Be careful of “What if” thinking and to focus on what is true…and trust the One who is carrying you each step of the way.  And praise Him even in life’s storms.

” Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

“Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
    Be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Psalm 28:9

 

You Can Donate Books!!!

You Can Donate Books!!!

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Many of you have contacted me and said that while you don’t need a copy of this book, you would love to help get these books into the hands of grieving families who have experienced an infant or baby loss.

And I am excited to say that we can do that!

The way to donate books is:  You can purchase a book through me (use my PayPal link and in the comments box, let me know where you would like the books to be sent and how you would like the dedication to be made on the inside bookplate).

Here is the book plate I put in the front of the books that went to WMIT, 106.9 The Light Radio Station:

img_1849Books have also been donated to the Wilkes Regional Medical Center.  Here are the book plates I used for them:

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These bookplates are a simple way to let the receiver of this book know that this book does not hold the opinions of the hospital staff and that they are not trying to force any religion on anyone.  The books is simply a gift to a grieving family.

This is a great opportunity for many reasons.  Since my books are “potentially offensive,” it is a great opportunity for us to put a Christian resource in the hands of grieving parents at an important crossroads in their lives.  I would never force my Christian beliefs on anyone, but I do pray that through my life and my words others will be drawn to the Lord and will understand how much He loves them.

So after much prayer and encouragement from different people (thank you guys for spurring me on…I can get a little too content in my bubble), I have gotten permission to donate these books to the following locations:

WMIT, 106.9 The Light (A local Christian radio station that houses certain books to be mailed to listeners who call in with prayer requests.  I Have a Brother books can be available to listeners who have had an infant/baby loss and are calling in with a prayer request after such.)

Brenner’s Children’s Hospital, Winston-Salem, NC – This is the hospital where Daniel was for two days and where he died.  I cannot say enough good things about this hospital and I am so thankful that we can minister there.  (Hopefully these books will be mailed later this week!)

Wilkes Regional Medical Center – This is a local hospital where I have a contact in the birthing center.  They have received a few books already.

If you would like to donate your books to another location, please let me know where (if you have a contact there, that would be fabulous), and I will be more than happy to work that out!  Just send me a message.  (I have a contact at Levine Children’s Hospital and hope to work that out soon.)

Thank you to everyone who has already donated books – I am so grateful for your support and pray that God will use this book to draw grieving families closer to Himself.

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful.”  Hebrews 10:22a,23

Pictured Above:  (L to R)  Troy Norton and Tricia Kelly of the Morning Show, Carol Davis, afternoon host, Director of Programming and Promotions and Jon Wood, afternoon host/Music Director showing the books they received to be given to a grieving family.

Thank you to Carol Davis for getting this picture for me!

“Potentially Offensive”

“Potentially Offensive”

I need to let you in on a little secret I was told back in the summer:  My books are potentially offensive.

I have never been told I was offensive before, but now I understand why.

And I am okay with being offensive.

We live in a world where the Christian message of hope is being stifled.  We are told to be politically correct and be careful not to offend ANYONE!

Here’s the thing:  I would never shove my Christian beliefs down someone’s throat.  Honestly, it is a push for me to be completely open and candid on this blog.  But I hope that my sharing will help someone else and if I can help someone else through my journey and point them to Jesus, then I will share.

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So when I shared my book with one hospital, I was written a sweet note saying that my book was nice, but it was my personal story and it could be potentially offensive to other people and therefore, they would not be able to purchase any copies of it.

And that is just fine.

However, I also know that when I had my last two babies (and probably my first two, if I could remember that far back….but MOMMY BRAIN), they asked me if I had any religious affiliation that I would like for them to know about.  I even had to tell what Christian denomination I identified with.  (So in my mind, I thought, “Couldn’t you look at their chart and see if they “identify with” Christian beliefs and only give the books to those people?)

So the Lord has helped me to see (through many different people), that there is another way that we can share the message of hope with parents who experience an infant/baby loss.  I am going to share more about that tomorrow.

For today, let’s just all commit to be bold for the Lord.  Our enemy the devil is prowling around searching for someone to destroy…let it not be us.  Let us be firm in our hope, Jesus Christ.

“Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”  1 Peter 5:8-9

How Are Book Sales?

How Are Book Sales?

img_1827I have been asked the question, “How are book sales?” many times recently by inquiring acquaintances trying to start a conversation.  This question always makes me giggle because I never wrote this book so that I could have book sales.  Let me explain myself:

When I sat down to write I Have a Brother – My Brother is in Heaven, my only goal was to have it available to families who experience an infant or baby loss.  To be a “hug” to them.  That they might not feel all alone on their journey as I felt all alone.

I wrote this on the last page of the book:

“My prayer is that this book has felt like a “hug” from me to you.  That is an odd statement coming from, the non-huggy type.  Let me explain my sentiment…

When Daniel died, I felt all alone.  Even in a room full of people, I felt alone.  

Other grieving moms have affirmed feeling alone after their losses.  We try to process what happened to us yet try to function normally.  

Grief is hard work.  It can take everything in you.  There were times when I could not sleep and other times when I did not want to wake.  I cried more tears than I thought my tear ducts could produce.  My body ached.  My emotions ran deep.  The hurt I felt was so great.  

And it is okay to let the hurt hurt. ” 

I wrote more, but you get the gist of it.

My hope and prayer has always been that my words whether on this blog or in the book, would encourage other families.  Yes, grief is hard (life is hard), but God is good.  God has never left you and we must trust Him in the midst of the unknowing, the undesirable, and the hard.

So how are the books selling?  Well, I am selling a few on Amazon and a few locally.  The thing about these books is that they are not something that anyone wants to read.  No one wants to talk about death, especially not the death of a child.

But for those of us who have experienced such, we NEED to talk about it.  We need to be free to discuss our loss with its crazy emotions and its great difficulties.

So the book sales are going fine.  I have sold roughly 200 books.  I don’t have a lot of time to promote my book, but this last week, God gave me a few extra hours in which I was able to make some contacts and I think we will have access to donate books in the near future.  But more on that later this week!

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.”  Psalm 27:14

 

My Happy Place

My Happy Place

I saw this the other day and it made me smile…because I know this feeling and I love it!!!

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I can remember in college there was this one Saturday night when it was supposed to snow big and I had this last book in the Christy Miller series that I wanted to read.  And it snowed.  I got out of bed, called our church phone line to see if the message said church was canceled (Yes, I am that old) and then I climbed back into bed and read the entire book from cover to cover.

All 288 pages.

While the snow trucks plowed the roads outside my window, I stayed in my little bed reading word for word while my baseboard heaters worked overtime.

I loved living in that little apartment alone.

It had one bedroom and one bathroom and a smallish kitchen though it was big enough for me (especially when I had the washing machine lid down which added extra counter space) and a little living room…and you could see all of it from the front door.

And that reminds me of a funny story (funny now…not so funny then).

The bathroom in my tiny apartment was across from my kitchen.  To be exact, the toilet was exactly opposite the oven.

And the bathroom did not have enough heat on those cold winter mornings.

So I did what any college student would do, in the winters, I would turn the oven on to 400 degrees with the oven door open and let it warm me up while I got ready in the mornings.

This was the most wonderful idea (I thought)…almost like having a fire place.  (My thirty-something year old self is dying at the thought of what I used to do.).

Let’s just say that one day I came home and my apartment was so hot, I could not walk in.

And let’s just give the Lord some praise because He was working overtime that day (and most days of my life) to protect me and I am most grateful!

But back to the book thing.

Lately, I have found myself getting into bed earlier and earlier with a good book to read.  I read Chip & Joanna Gaines’s new book, Magnolia earlier this month and I highly recommend it, especially if you like their show, Fixer Upper.

I have also been reading through old copies of Our State magazine lately.  Dustin has subscribed to this magazine for years.  However, I had never picked up a copy of it until a few weeks ago…it is great reading material while I dry my hair in the mornings.  I never knew that North Carolina had so many interesting things, places, inventions from here!

 

I am so thankful to have called North Carolina home for the last almost twenty years.  I have never lived anywhere this long in my entire life.

So what are you thankful for today?  What makes you giddy with excitement?  I would love to hear from you!

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Sickness, Sales and Sisters

Sickness, Sales and Sisters

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Wow!  Has it been several weeks already?  It seems like time is flying.  As in, next week is Thanksgiving and then comes Christmas and, oh no, I am not ready for the Christmas festivities!

So in full disclosure, I must share that we have had about ten days of sickness at my house.  No one was sick for ten consecutive days…it was a three day virus type of thing..it just took its sweet time working its way through our household! And on the two off days in the middle when I thought we were all well, we totally visited with friends and family.  Thankfully, none of them got any germs.

If this is possible, it was the most wonderful kind of sickness you can have…fever and aches only.  Which translates into seclusion from the outside world for almost ten days and time to clean out your spice drawer and write at least one Christmas play.

(Explanation:  The Petrey children have done a Christmas Eve play for the last I-don’t-know-how-many years.  It is less than eleven years, but possibly as many as nine…my memory fails me.)

I love, love, LOVE to work with the kids on this play and it brings me such joy to work with them throughout the holidays to perfect our play each year!

So while the rest of the holiday world is baking, I am working on a few little plays.  I had to fill my holiday time with something!  Ha!

So now we do two different Christmas plays – one with more music and less talking (for Mamaw’s Friday Lunch group)  and another with a plot for our Christmas Eve play (since Petreys tend to love all things dramatic…ALL THINGS DRAMATIC.)

So I have the “Less-Talking” play finished and choreographed.

And yes, we might do the wave and have a kick line.

And that might just tickle me pink.  I love me some drama.

And I love these little Petreys.

In addition to sickness, my sister, mom and I had a joint yardsale during which I profited a hefty $42.50 which reminded me why it is always better to consign your clothes and donate everything else.  Yard sales are NOT WORTH IT.  Unless you are the shopper.

Which leads me to the sister part of this blog (actually the sister part is two-fold).  First my sister, with whom we had the yard sale is a busy beaver these days.  She will finish her bachelor’s of nursing in December which means she has been in school all this year and working full-time and has been an incredible mother to this little lady who we all love and adore.  So while she wanted to contribute to the yard sale, she did not have time to price all of her things.

So Sister left all her things with Mama and me to price on Friday night before the yard sale and so we basically priced things by type.  We had a $1.00 basket of clothes, a $2.00 basket of clothes, men’s clothing was priced by type and so forth and so on.

So mid-morning, Sister joined us at the yard sale (she had had some spend the night company on Friday night also…she is like SUPER WOMAN!).  And she casually asked, “Oh I see that you sold my purses…”  Then she asked how much I had sold them for and I cheerfully told her that we sold them for $3 each.

She looked at me and said, “Even my Kate Spade purses.”

Here is where I must make a confession that a purse is a purse is a purse to me.  So I said, hesitantly, “Yeees?”

And in her defense she just continued sipping her coffee and went quietly inside.

Now I know that a Kate Spade purse is worth more than the ones you get at Walmart and next time Sister will probably not trust me to price her items.

I tried.

The other sister component of this post (is this my longest blog post ever?) is that I am so excited to be a part of a Secret Sister gift exchange!  I saw a friend’s post about doing one and I thought oh that sounds like fun.  And I woke up the next morning thinking about it and thought, “If there is room for me to still do it, I am going to…this will be fun!”

And the more I thought about it, I have always loved the idea of Secret Sisters.  I used to attend church with my aunt and grandmother and see the table of Secret Sister gifts on the back table as I entered the church.  I remember thinking, I wish I was old enough and attended this church regularly so that I could participate in this gift exchange.

So I signed up for the Secret Sister gift exchange and am on a mission to find the gift for my secret sister!

It works like the chain letters of old, but instead of having bad luck if you didn’t copy and mail the letter out to four thousand people in three days, this one is totally voluntary and involves sending gifts instead of the strange items like the one time that I remember sending a person a pair of orange underwear the size of a large pizza.  (I even asked my mom about it last night and she cannot remember why we did that either but that it seemed like fun at the time!)

And if Mama let me do it as a child, you can rest assured that it was safe and appropriate.  But now, we scratch our heads as to why we would have done such a thing.

This time of year, even as it quickly approaches, makes me thankful my mama and sister and all of the memories we have made together…even the ones where we cannot remember why we did what we did…but at least we did it together.  And thankful for the forgiveness for the sharing of germs or selling of purses.

That’s my prayer for you this morning…that you can see the blessings in your life and thank the Lord for them.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”  Psalm 136:1

And if any of you are interested in being part of the Secret Sister exchange, send me a message!

 

I Want to Like the Kavu Bag…

I Want to Like the Kavu Bag…

Confession #1:  I am not the coolest cat on the block.

Confession #2:  And I am okay with that.

While I may not own the latest fashions (no LuLaRue leggings here…yet), there occasionally are items that I think, hey I like that…maybe I am cooler than I thought.

That’s what I thought when my oldest daughter got a Kavu bag for her birthday.  She had been eyeballing them and making mention of how she would like one for months, so when her birthday rolled around, Grandmama knew exactly what to get her!

Here’s the thing about my Ruth (she is just like her daddy in this), she will look at something and investigate it for months and months, but when she makes up her mind that she likes something and would like to get it…it is a done deal.  She had been googling Kavu bags and reading Amazon reviews for months declared that she wanted a Kavu bag.

So while we were in Kentucky last week, I asked if I could try out the Kavu bag…and Ruthie so kindly agreed to let it be “my” purse for the weekend.  I loaded that thing up and slug it over my head like a really cool hipster (because you know…I can go back to my cool days…wait, did I have any of those?!?)

And here’s the thing…everytime I needed to get anything out of it, I had to slide it in reverse over my neck.  And after the forty-second time that someone needed hand sanitizer or a tissue, I realized that I might also need some thick cream for my neck where I was rubbing it raw with this Kavu bag.

After day two of Kavu bag coolness, I had made my decision…no Kavu bag for me, but I was most appreciative of the opportunity to try one out before I went whole hog with the new purse.

So anyway, we spent the end of last week in Owensboro, Kentucky and had a wonderful time!  Everyone there was SO FRIENDLY and the museums were absolutely fabulous!   The girls and I shopped for shoeboxes while Dustin was in some meetings and enjoyed the ministry that is “Hobby Lobby” and “Target.”  And of course, we enjoyed the ministry of the “Chick-Fil-A” after we finished shoebox shopping!

And be this weird or not, I always enjoy trying out new grocery stores when we are in new cities.  Last year, I fell in love with the “GIANT” grocery store in Virginia and this time I tried out a new and FABULOUS Kroger!

None of this is relatable to the book or to infant loss grief, but we are more than that.  We are a family trusting God through all of life journeys!

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding…”  Proverbs 3:5